Zionism and Racism (cont)
a Zionism On The Web Special
Back to page 1: Is Zionism Racism?, or to page 2: Definitions of Zionism and Racism
Zionism is Apartheid?
Israel has been compared to Apartheid South Africa prior to 1994. Is this an accurate description?
Below are some comparisons between the two states:
- In South Africa black people were forbidden to travel freely unless they had a pass.
In Israel Israeli Arabs can travel on all public transport, and their cars have the same number plates as Israeli Jews
- In South Africa there were curfews and black people were forbidden in the streets after that hour, even though they were not terrorists.
In Israel there is no such curfew
- In South Africa laws forbade black people to eat in white restaurants.
In Israel there are no such laws. For example, a recent suicide bomb in a Haifa restaurant, co-owned by a Jew and an Arab, killed both Arab and Jewish customers and staff.
- In South Africa black people could not buy property in white areas.
In Israel this is not the case. For example, there is Neveh Shalom, an Arab-Jewish village, and there are areas of Haifa, for example, where Arabs and Jews live side by side. In some areas this has sometimes been more difficult, but a recent High Court case ruled in favour of allowing an Arab family to move into a Jewish village.
- In South Africa education of black and white children was totally separate.
In Israel both communities prefer to teach their primary school children in their own language, though Neveh Shalom runs a schools for the Arabs and Jews of the surrounding area where both languages are taught. There are also many examples of joint music and sports projects. An Arab 15 year-old who won a swimming competition announced that she was proud to be an Israeli. There are many schools for handicapped children throughout Israel which cater to both Arab and Jewish children. Universities accept both Arab and Jewish students. In Haifa, where the Arabs form 20% of the population, 20% of the students at Haifa University are Arabs, as is the faculty. They all mix freely with each other. At the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where a suicide bomber killed and maimed both Arab and Jewish students a few years ago, Arab and Jewish students mix freely. In Tel Aviv University an Arab Ph.D. student last year called for a boycott of Israeli universities. He is still there. Bar Ilan University caters to many orthodox Jews, and this atmosphere is attractive to observant Muslims who send their daughters there to study alongside their Jewish peers.
- In South Africa hospitals were segregated.
- In Israel hospitals cater to both Arab and Israeli patients. They can be seen sharing the wards, and their families use the ward kitchens together. Arab and Jewish doctors and nurses work alongside each other.
- In South Africa it was forbidden by law for anyone to criticise the apartheid policies of the white government. In Israel there is a free press and anyone can and does criticise the government all the time. Arab MKs (Members of Parliament) frequently not only criticise the Israeli government and its policies, but make statements which clearly show their solidarity with those whose aim is to destroy Israel. Yet they still retain their positions.
- In South Africa no socialising at all was permitted between blacks and whites.
- In Israel an Arab football team won the championships, and Israel’s team, which was defeated in the European championships in 2004, consisted of both Arab and Jewish players. A recent Miss Israel was a beautiful Arab girl.
- In South Africa no black person ever served in the army.
In Israel no Arab is conscripted as it was considered wrong to expect a man to fight an enemy with whom he might have family connections. In addition, there was and still is a fear that some Arabs might be more sympathetic to those they would be required to fight. In spite of this, there are many Druze, who are Muslims, in the Israeli Defence Force, and other non-Jewish citizens also serve.
It is true that there is work to be done until the Israeli Arabs have total equality with their Jewish fellow-citizens. There is some social discrimination in the job market – much of it due to fear of suicide bombers - and more money has to be allocated to infrastructure in Arab villages and towns and to Arab education.
However, it is clear that the human rights of Arabs in Israel are far superior to those of women, Christians and other minorities in the Arab world. Israel is almost the only country in the Middle East which does not allow honour killing and where women have equal rights. There are very few Jews in Muslim countries as most – a much larger number than Arabs who left Israel in 1948 - were expelled in the 1950s simply because they were Jewish. Christians are persecuted in many Muslim countries, whereas in Israel followers of every religion may worship freely, and all religious buildings and sites are protected.
It is the only country in the Middle East where a Bahai Temple is allowed.
In Bethlehem, in the Palestinian Authority, Christians have been subjected to extortion, rape and murder and are leaving in ever-growing numbers. In Kalkilya in the Gaza strip the YMCA was destroyed in May 2006, although it served Palestinians as well as the few Christians who live there. A Christian church in Jericho was torched in June 2006. The new Hamas government has said that it will inaugurate a “Dhimmi Tax”, that is, a tax on all non-Muslims. The Palestinian Authority want all Jews to leave what they regard as their territory, and in Gaza this has already happened. In Israel, approximately one-fifth of the population is Arab.